St. Andrew's Day in Doncaster: What is Doncaster's relation to Scotland?

We’ve all heard it before – but what exactly is Doncaster’s connection with Scotland all about?

Friday, 19th November 2021, 11:21 am
Man with bagpipes
Man with bagpipes

Some see it as a blessing, others see it as a curse. One thing is for certain, however – Doncaster and Scotland have an intrinsic link that goes back several centuries.

Furthermore, it’s no fabrication. During the mid 1100s, Doncaster was indeed under the rule of David I’s Scotland. The details are somewhat sketchy, however.

Historical records of Doncaster only stretch back to around 1200, which is well after the time period we’re interested in. Unfortunately, the finer details of Doncaster’s status remain unclear. We do, however, have a vague idea of what happened.

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A rampaging monarch

Scotland and England, during the 1100s, were not the best of friends by any measure. In fact, being two connected rival kingdoms, they were essentially mortal enemies by design.

King David I of Scotland terrorised the north of England, slowly pillaging and conquering his way through the most northerly settlements and villages. Something had to be done, but King Stephen of England decreed that it would be without bloodshed.

A peace treaty was signed to stop David’s campaign – with Doncaster being thrown in as part of the treaty. Again, the exact year is unclear, but at this time, Doncaster belonged to Scotland.

The treaty did not last long – David persisted with his warring ways in northern England, nullifying the treaty. However, Doncaster was still under Scottish rule in practice.

In 1157, Doncaster was forcibly retaken by Henry II of England, after David I had died. At this point, Doncaster was once again under English rule, but again, only in practice. No official documents were signed to denote the secession of Doncaster back to England – so, technically, Scotland still owns Doncaster!

What does this mean in the present day?

In a word? Nothing. It’s highly unlikely that Nicola Sturgeon will ever ride into Doncaster on horseback demanding control of the town off the back of an ancient (and missing) treaty.

However, it’s an interesting look into the history of the town we live in. It’s easy to see Doncaster’s historical significance by just wandering around – from its Georgian architecture to the majestic Conisbrough Castle, Doncaster is more historically important than you may initially have thought.